USDA loosened regulatory requirements for hemp in a new rule issued Friday, giving producers more time to harvest their crops after testing for THC levels and not requiring they use laboratories registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration until the end of 2022.
Many in the hemp industry are worried a new Drug Enforcement Administration rule will make processors vulnerable to enforcement under the Controlled Substances Act, and some are looking at filing a lawsuit to challenge it.
Too much product, some high-profile bankruptcies and continued regulatory uncertainty contributed to making 2019 a tough year for hemp growers, but proponents of the versatile plant say it’s still viable in the long term for uses including CBD (short for cannabidiol), food and fiber.
State agriculture departments and a broad cross-section of the hemp industry are telling USDA its rule governing domestic production will hurt the nascent industry by imposing sampling and testing requirements that are virtually impossible to meet.
Hemp growers already facing a learning curve when it comes to producing the crop this year are confronting a scarier prospect than low yields or a lack of processing facilities: the potential for seizure of their crop on the road.